Aspects of Stigma
Until we can define what we are dealing with when we talk
of stigma and discrimination we may not be able to do anything
very much. Below are some ideas put together as a result of
the stigma discussion at the Jerusalem conference and other
discussions about stigma we have If you have something to add
that may help people in their creation of anti-stigma and
anti-discrimination programs please call in to our email.
Grouping or categorizing persons under one heading and
attributing characteristics to all the individuals under that
Making generalizations about groups of people
Making judgments based on how people look
Being unable to see people as individuals with
Using stereotypes on which to base film or TV suspense
REINFORCING THE STEREOTYPE
Untreated people who are visible on our streets present
an image that people respond to with fear and avoidance
In some societies eccentricity is well accepted, in
others people must conform for acceptance.
The idea that psychiatric disorders have to do with the
An almost innate feeling of fear among many members of
A fear of associating with anyone who has a mind
Society's recollection of the "madhouse" as
demonstrated in films like "The Snake Pit" back in
A human being's distrust of the unpredictable
The lack of knowledge and the public unawareness of how
these disorders affect people
Attributing logical and reasoned thought to the actions
of people in psychosis
A susceptibility to make fun of mental illness
Government and societal discrimination against people
with these disorders in matters of employment, travel (visas),
The mental health workforce is largely untrained and
ignorant of current knowledge in the field
Persons recovering from or unstable with illnesses of
the mind are very vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals who
would dupe or otherwise abuse them.
Persons angered by the behaviour of people with illness
may physically abuse them.
Vulnerability to coercion by religious cults, drug
users and dealers and others
Using words that have unpleasant connotations
Using words which are downright offensive e.g. schizo;
psycho. (Extraordinarily enough a group of consumers have
adopted for themselves the term "the crazies"
Describing disorders using vivid adjectives e.g.
Finding suitable terms to describe experiences
Using judgmental language
The pejorative connotation of words that were
originally ways to describe people's conditions e.g. mental
Discounting anything someone with experience of
schizophrenia says as delusional thinking or not to be
THE BENEFITS OF LANGUAGE
Finding more suitable expressions which put the hope
back e.g. "treatable"
Being able to ask those who have experience of mind
disorders whether they can suggest better ways of using
Thinking before you speak. Putting yourself in the
other persons position.
Listening to and conversing with persons with
experience of schizophrenia
VALUING PEOPLE WITH DISORDERS
People should not be characterized by the disorders
they suffer. There is more to a person than this.
Searching out people's abilities is of more value than
reinforcing notions about their disabilities
CHANGING THE EXPECTATIONS
Better medications and better management indicate that
today recovery is a very real hope.
Better income provision for those with such
disabilities may make them less vulnerable to discrimination.